Odds and Ends: XYZ–Next USAF aerial tanker specs; Analysts on CSeries ahead of earnings

KC-XYZ: The USAF hasn’t even received the first Boeing KC-46A, which was the tanker award from the KC-X competition, and it has begun drawing up specifications for the follow-on competition, the KC-Y. The KC-Y is the second tranche of replacements for the Boeing KC-135. The KC-Z will be the replacement for the Boeing/McDonnell Douglas KC-10.

Conventional wisdom suggests that one would presume Boeing will likely get the KC-Y award, since this is almost certainly to be a virtually identical specification to the KC-135/KC-Y replacement criteria. The KC-Z, on the other hand, could well be a face off between Airbus and Boeing with their KC-330/KC-777 aircraft (for Airbus) and concept (for Boeing). The Boeing 777-200LRF would be the baseline design and it is more closely the size to the KC-10 than is Airbus’ KC-330.

But it’s not as if this is immediately over the horizon. KC-Y is envisioned from 2040-45 and KC-Z in 2050-2060. So perhaps the contenders will by aircraft based on the A350, the 777-8, a Blended Wing Body or an entirely new set of airframes.

BBD CSeries: Canadian aerospace analysts believe the entry into service for the Bombardier CSeries will slip to 2015, according to Bloomberg News. Bombardier’s third quarter earnings call is October 31. There should be some guidance, we think.

6 Comments on “Odds and Ends: XYZ–Next USAF aerial tanker specs; Analysts on CSeries ahead of earnings

  1. When did the KC-Y & Z programs change? Originally the KC-Y was to replace the KC-10 and the KC-Z was the second trance to replace the final KC-135s, originally to begin around 2030 to 2035 for the KC-Z.

    Has the news about possibly retiring the KC-10s within this decade changed anything? The USAF is thinking about retiring the KC-10 because of budget reasons. The KC-10 has never received a major upgrade, the biggest one is the change in avionics which is under way now.

    The major problem with the KC-10 is it will soon become unsupportable because of the small fleet, 59 aircraft, and the DC/MD-10-30/-40s are being scrapped at an increasing rate. The USAF isn’t alone with this. The RNAF is facing the same thing with their KDC-10s, but they can be supported longer if the USAF retires the KC-10.

  2. After the sustained attacks in Congress and the media against the KC 300 during the two previous attempts I very much doubt if Airbus would even bother to compete. And I suspect that any competition would be carefully worded (as with the last) to ensure that the replacement just happened to fit the available Boeing product!

  3. I’m confused.

    I understand USAF use the KC-10 to support large bombers, as they take much fuel and need to be refueled across oceans. Of course the 767-based tanker should have good range, engines have done so much for range in recent decades as I suppose they have in the past (the Wright Turbo-Compound for DC-7C, Supper Connie, and Argus, the RR Conway then Pratt turbofan for B-707s and DC-8s).

    Smaller than the KC-135/KC-46A are C-130s routinely used to refuel helicopters. The Herc has good range, I expect is faster than even the upcoming really fast helicopters and the tilt-rotors. 350 knots airspeed limit at low altitudes, but can fly relatively slow (not as slow as people tend to think unless safety margins are reduced – it is a big fast transport aircraft not a STOL aircraft). Cargo bay capacity toward 50,000. pounds gross in the pre-J versions at least – at PW we had a big tank there to supply High Arctic use, and substantial wing tanks plus pylon tanks.

    I don’t see a need for a fourth size of tanker.

    PS: Of course USAF would need fewer big long-range tankers if it re-engined the B-52s, IIRC both Pratt and R-R proposed using four of their engine models from the 757 in place of original 8 707-class engines. (IIRC one even offered to fund the capital investment – hmm, many 757s being retired.)

    • The KC-135 does about 85% of the USAF air refueling, including long range heavy bombers. The KC-10 does about 10% of the air refueling and the HC-130s do about 5%.

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